1868 Messrs. Cassell, Petter, & Galpin started the Echo, the first
halfpenny daily newspaper published in London, with Arthur Arnold,
afterwards chairman of the London County Council, as editor. After
maintaining the paper for about seven years, and not succeeding with
it as they expected, Messrs. Cassell & Co. sold it to Albert Grant,
who, at the time, was supposed to be a millionaire. Mr. Grant within
twelve months got tired of the responsibility and loss entailed, and
sold the property, somewhat damaged in condition and value, to me.
I soon, however, repented of the bargain, as I found the machinery
and everything connected with the production of the paper, including
even the foundations of the building itself, had to be renewed at
the cost of several thousand pounds.
For two or three years I staggered under my new obligations. But with
diligence, fledged with hope, the paper gradually grew prosperous,
and became a substantial London daily organ. In 1884 I sold two-thirds
of the property to Mr. Andrew Carnegie and Mr. Samuel Story, M.P.
But, differences having arisen over matters of opinion and methods
of management, I bought back the said two-thirds, once more assumed
full command, and remained proprietor and editor for twelve more years.
I then sold the paper to a syndicate formed for the purpose. Afterwards
the proprietorship and management of the Echo underwent other changes,
until it ceased to exist in August, 1905.
my fifty years' connection with newspapers and magazines I took a
part-a subordinate one, I admit-in all the principal controversies
on social and political questions of the time. I need scarcely say
that I not infrequently found myself with struggling minorities, many
of which, after adequate discussion, expanded into triumphant majorities.
If a public question is reasonable and in harmony with general interests,
it only requires, on the part of its defenders, time, courage, and
suitable treatment, to secure social or legal sanction. Few things
to me have been more pleasing or more historically picturesque than
the having witnessed many national questions, fanned by agitation,
emerge from obscurity, grow into "great facts," and blossom
into Acts of Parliament. In all my experience as editor of, or contributor
to, newspapers or magazines, I never wrote a sentence or passed a
sentence on to the printers that I did not think true, and useful
because true. While some editors and writers are ever ready to trim
their sails to kiss, or to be kissed by, the passing breeze, in whatever
way it may be moving, I always said, or caused to be said, where I
had control, what I considered truest, whether popular at the time
or not. What is best for mankind, now or in the future, is best for
the nation, and what is best for the nation is best for individuals.
I do not say I have not made mistakes, or, if at times I had been
better informed, that I should not have written, spoken, or acted
differently; but I do say-and I take no credit for saying or doing
it-that I have always treated public questions purely in the light
of general and enduring interests. And I would again act on the same
principle and exalt it into an unshakable policy, though it might
leave me, as it frequently did, in the company of the minority. Unfortunately,
thousands of articles published annually in metropolitan newspapers
are written to order, and do not carry with them the convictions of
their writers, as thousands of votes are given annually in Parliament,
not for the public, but for party good. There are "bulls"
and "bears" as numerous and as unscrupulous, if not as cunning,
on the newspaper Press as on 'Change. Day by day many dance to tunes
played on newspaper organs for private gain at the public expense.
But the claims of humanity, being transcendently greater than the
claims of individuals or combinations of individuals, should exercise
corresponding sway over individual conduct, and particularly in the
realm of journalism.